The myth and mystery of the Medicine Hat horse goes back many, many years. The Medicine Hat horse is a special animal, supposed to have special powers, and is very rare. They have been immortalized in stories like in Marguerite Henry’s book ‘San Domingo’, which was also honored by a Breyer model and a motion picture.
But what is a Medicine Hat horse? Basically, it’s a pinto horse, but one with a very specific marking. The horse is almost entirely white, but has a colored patch covering the ears and the top of the head. A Medicine Hat can have other markings, but the less they have the more powerful they were believed to be. It is sometimes mistakenly believed that a Medicine Hat also had to have certain other markings, such as a spot over its chest (a ‘shield’), but in reality the most prized Medicine Hats were all white except for the poll marking. The distinguishing head markings are what makes up the ‘medicine hat’, or ‘war bonnet’. Medicine Hats often have pink muzzles, and those with one or more blue eyes are especially prized.
The mythology of the Medicine Hat horse is steeped in Native American tradition and legend. A Medicine Hat horse is believed to have a magical ability to protect its rider from injury or death in battle, and were thought to have special abilities to warn their riders of danger and to find wild game hiding in forests or canyons. The mainly white coats were often decorated with other magical symbols, believed to increase the horse’s powers.
Tribes would try and steal the Medicine Hat horse of another tribe, believing that in doing so they would have the horse’s good luck, and steal the good luck of the other tribe. A Medicine Hat horse was closely guarded by a tribe, and was a central part of a very complicated belief system the horse was much more than a ‘good luck charm’.
Are there Medicine Hat horses today? Of course the ‘medicine hat’ marking can still occur, and is found in pintos of almost any breed, although it is still most common in Mustangs and their close relations, the Spanish Barb. That said, Einstein, the newly born tiny foal getting a lot of attention for his small size, is also just about a Medicine Hat, as is his pony mother.
Are they magical? Who knows? There is certainly something special about these horses. It may just be that they have such striking and unusual markings, but it may be something more. If when you see one, you sense something magical, then maybe you’ll know!
I couldn’t believe my eyes. For having been so little there before, it looked like a whole town had been turned inside out. Ben shook his head, and walked down to the trail slowly, carefully, picking out way around what was now debris but doubtless once had been the treasures of a family. Luke hopped off Snowy, and started to scurry around and pick up whate . . .
We’ve seen how the lower legs and hoof all work together to help the horse move, even without any muscles there. Now let’s start looking at how the muscles of the horse really give him power, speed, and balance. Where better to start than the actual ‘engine’ of the horse, the hindquarters?
The horse gets almost all of the power and energy for movement fo . . .
We’ve taken a look at the solid structures of the lower leg – the bones – now let’s see what makes those bones move. First of all, remember that there are no muscles below the knee or the hock, so there’s no actual ‘engine’ to move these bones. It all comes from a network of ligaments and tendons that connect to muscles higher up the leg. The neat part of th . . .
There was no shelter, no trees, nothing. Ben called again and we turned further right, angling away from the train. We were going uphill, and that seemed even more foolish to me until we reached the crest. What goes up, goes down, and Ben was seeking shelter on the other side of a little ridge that had been running alongside the trail. The heavens opened; fi . . .
It wasn’t long before Luke rode up alongside us on Snowy. I couldn’t see him for my blinkers, but I could hear Snowy’s little quick hoofbeats and smell his carroty breath. Snowy reached over and gave me a nip on my muzzle; I turned my head to tell him off, when I saw what he was trying to tell me. As I tipped my head and peered off to the south through my bl . . .
As the sun grew higher in the sky, the dew dried on the grass, and the last few lingering clouds fluttered and disappeared. The bright blue sky – with that deep blue of a cold morning – changed to a softer hue, as a muggy haze began to crawl out of the west. I don’t mind working in the heat, but the trouble with Appalachian weather is the air gets so damp t . . .
Now that we have the foundations – the hoof – let’s move up our horse and find out a little more about how he moves. In this article we’ll visit the lower leg. For the most part, the front and hind legs (below the knee and hock) are pretty much the same, but after this feature, we’ll have to take the front half and back half of the horse separately.
First . . .
I heard the rooster crow, and shifted in my stall to try and stretch as much as I could. First he crows, then Farmer Ben comes along, Bess and I have breakfast, and we get to work. Sunday was yesterday, when we got brushed up nice, Amy put a ribbon in our forelocks, and we took the wagon to church. If yesterday was Sunday, that meant today we had a week of w . . .
It all started toward the end of 2004, when I happened to be paging through a newspaper and came across a certain article: "Mares and foals for sale!" Typical of a young, horse crazy child, I ran to my mother and nagged . . .
At every show, without fail, we will see some tiny kid chucked up on the million dollar showjumping pony that Daddy dearest smashed his piggy bank to buy, and 9 out of ten times, little Sally or Mary-Sue will be sitting . . .
When I first started this scheme, I set two goals for myself: Jump a single jump at 1,20m backwards, and complete a low course backwards. I also considered trying a small course at a local practise show if I could find a . . .
Have you ever taken a moment at a show, to pause before entering the warm up? Do you ever look into that deadly hornets’ nest of an arena and think, 'Holy doughnuts, I’m going to get crushed in there!' If you haven’t – g . . .
With 2010 well behind us, the time soon arose for Moony to make his 2011 debut – heading off for his first show of the year on the morning of 5 February 2011.
He loaded without a problem, and arrived at the show safe . . .
When it comes to bitting, you always want to go with the softest option possible. A horse’s mouth is extremely important, and you want to keep it soft so that you have a clear connection with your horse, and can use ligh . . .
On 3 February 2011, one of our show venues was having an open day – allowing riders to pay to use the arena for one-hour sessions.
This was the perfect opportunity to prepare Moony for his first show of the new year! . . .
To start with, Moony was having a bit of a baby moment and was struggling to concentrate properly in the new show venue - especially considering it was quite a big show with lots going on. Crowds, flags, open spaces, cow . . .
On 17 February 2011, I began preparing Moony for his eventing debut. After his Third Place in his first jumping show of the year, I decided it was time for him to start eventing and see if he couldn’t achieve similar res . . .
When asking your horse to kiss, always be aware that horses are big animals, and to have a horse’s head anywhere near your face can be dangerous. Always be ready to back away in case he moves his head too suddenly. And, . . .